As I said each of these costs can vary from person to person based on location and personal tastes but this is brief overview of our experiences. Keep in mind that since we are doing all the labor ourselves these figures do not include any labor whatsoever. So here is our experience over the past year or so here in South Dakota. ….
Water – In our area we had the choice of trying to dig a well, hooking up to rural water or installing a cistern. Wells in this area can be hit and miss. A few miles away wells are no problem and wells hit water rather quickly but in our particular area we were warned that if we tried to dig a well we could end up with a very deep, very dry, very expensive hole for a fence post so this option was off the table very quickly.
Our second option was to hook up to rural water which runs right past our place at the road. While considering this option our first consideration was cost. It costs $2,500 for the connection and then a per foot charge to dig a trench and lay the waterline to the house. Since we are about ¼ mile off the road we knew this was going to be costly. On top of that there is a $90/month charge whether you used an ounce of water or not. Then there is a charge for every gallon over your first 80 gallons each month. Given the fact that only planned to be here ½ the year we would be paying $90 a month for nothing.
Our last option was to install a cistern. This was the most popular method prior to the rural water being installed. Homeowners would install cisterns of 1,000 gallons or more, buy a 250 gallon or so water tank that fit in the back of a truck or trailer and drive to town to one of the several water fill stations and will their tanks at a cost of .01/gallon. The upside of this option is that is it much cheaper and you only pay for what you use. The obvious downside is the hassle of having to get your own water.
Living in our RV the past 6 years we were very used to using as little water as we could so the fact that we had limited water did not scare us and the cost appealed to us so we went with this option. The 2,000 gallon cistern installed was $2,500 and found a local water guy who will fill it for .08/gallon. So far it looks like 2,000 gallons will last us the year while we live in our RV during the build. Even if we double or triple that when the house is built we are money ahead.
|Cistern installed October of 2017
There are not sewer systems in this area so the only option in this area were mound systems or a conventional drain field. Since our area perc’ed for a conventional system, we went with that option at a cost of $4,500.
|Sewage Tank (Oct '17)
|Line from tank to drainfield
Site PrepThis was a challenging area for us as we were at the complete mercy of the excavator. We knew we needed quite a bit of work to make that area we wanted to build stable enough and flat enough so we got a couple bids.
|Kevin and I clearing the site (Summer of '17)
We had two options here. Having power lines run to the build site or install solar. Since we have solar on our rig we were quite familiar with the in’s, out’s and costs of solar. We knew either were going to be expensive. Being so far off the road certainly was not going to help the cost of running power lines. When we contacted the power company to get a cost he suggested that we contact the owner of an abandoned cattle corral a few hundred yards from our build site and see if we could jump off his power poles to get power to our site. The owner lived in Germany but he did give us permission saving us thousands of dollars. The initial cost was $9,300 but we received $3,500 of that back when we started building.
|Power Pole in!
|Got the house side done!
|Finished the meter side this afternoon
Our son Forrest who is an electrician is coming out to do the labor so add in a case of beer (or two) and that will be done!
I forget what I paid for plumbing pipes but I don’t think it was more than a few hundred dollars and thanks to my neighbor Doug who is a licensed plumber and inspected my work I know everything will flow downhill!
This is the first area that we started saving money and using our own labor. First let me say if it weren’t for our friend Kevin we would have never been able to do any of the labor savings items throughout the rest of this post. We did all of our own concrete work. Installing the forms, as well as pouring the 30’x88’ pad. The cost of the concrete was a little over $9,000.
|Foam and in-floor heat in and ready for concrete!
|A day later we had concrete!
Again thanks to Kevin, he taught us how to build and frame walls and inspected our work after each phase. We used a local lumber yard for our building materials, the total cost of lumber to frame in the building at about $14,000. This is probably a couple thousand dollars more than we would have spent going to a discount lumber yard but the local yard delivered, took back everything we did not use and we did not have to run back and forth to Rapid City over an hour away. Money well spent.
We got a couple bids for trusses, about $10,000 for the house and porch trusses. Both the trusses and floor system came with detail drawings making them easier (easier being a relative term) to install.
There are so many options when it comes to windows/sliders. We had bids as low as $10,000 and a high of $30,000. Since Kevin had built over 100 homes he knows windows and guided us towards Marvin Integrity and since windows really make the house we went with windows that would help highlight the views. The total for the windows was just short of $20,000 with the 12’slider and traps being about 1/3 of that cost. We did not go crazy with exterior doors, we spent about $1000 on the three exterior doors. With luck we will have all the exterior doors in by the end of next week.
|Front door ready to go in..
Roofing and Siding
Again so many options here. Our goal going into this project was “maintenance free” so we decided to go with an all steel roof and steel/stone for the siding and aluminum soffits. Although we have not started this phase of the project yet, if the costs stay close to the bid amounts it should come in right around $17,000. We are using Bridger Steel out of Rapid City, they had competitive pricing and a lot of good ideas. Click the link above to see some of the many pictures of previous installs.
Whew, just writing about all this work makes me tired. It is hard to say how much we have saved in labor but it is safe to say it was significant. Some in the know say you could pretty much double your material costs and that is what we saved. We are very grateful to have Kevin helping us along the way and the dozen or so friends who have stopped by with their helping hands over the past few months.
Our hope is to have the steel on the roof before the first snow flies and with luck the siding done before spring. As far as the rest of the project, we don’t want to push it, we don’t plan on getting off the road anytime soon so if it takes us 4-5 years to completely finish the inside, that is fine with us!
I hope this gives an insight for those of you who were wondering. We have not taken the time to add all these up, I probably don't want to know but there is a lot of satisfaction in the fact that we are doing it ourselves and saving a lot of money in labor. Kevin arrives sometime today for a week long visit. We will be hitting his house pretty hard as it has not have any substantial work on it since late March, it is going to be a busy week!
We would love to hear your thoughts, experiences or comments. Feel free to leave a comment below.